To say Henrik Norlander’s rookie season on the PGA tour was a struggle would have been a big understatement two weeks ago. The big kid from Sweden had earned just $63,000 and was not even in the Top 180 on the PGA tour’s Money List. He had missed the cut in four of those nine events, and when he did make the cut, it seemed he was just narrowly cracking the Top 70 to be around for the weekend.
However, all that changed two weeks ago at The Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Norlander had four consecutive rounds of par or better, including a brilliant -6 under 65 on Saturday to propel him up the leaderboard. In the end, the former Augusta State University All-American had his best finish on the PGA Tour with a tie for 15th. That earned him, easily, his biggest payday to date with a check for $102,300. It also moved him into the Top 50 on the money list at No. 148.
That result was well received in Columbia County. The 6-4, long-hitting Norlander now plays out of Champions Retreat in Evans. He endeared himself to the area as a four-year standout at Augusta State. He earned All-American honors for the Jags, and led the program to back-to-back-NCAA Division I golf titles, and now he represents Champions Retreat each week out on tour.
So, yes, there were plenty of happy people in Columbia County when Norlander played so well in New Orleans. Proving that The Zurich Classic was no fluke, Norlander boasted another strong finish this past week in Charlotte at the Wells Fargo Championship. Norlander opened with a +2 over 74, and with scoring pretty low on Day One, it seemed he might be in for a short work week.
However, as scoring conditions got tougher, Norlander rose to the occasion. He bounced back with a solid -2 under 70 in Round Two and followed that up with a -3 under 69 on Saturday. He shot 72 in Sunday’s final round, and finished tied for 16th in the event. It was Norlander’s second consecutive Top 16 finish, and the $97,000 he earned allowed him to skyrocket 20 more spots on the money list to No. 128. That means he moved up more than 50 spots in just two weeks. He is now in the Top 135 on the Fed Ex Cup Points List at 133.
During his days at Augusta State, Norlander earned a reputation as one of the nicest young men you could ever meet. That is certainly true, and playing on golf’s biggest stage has not changed that. However, do not let his kind demeanor fool you. Norlander has the drive and killer instinct to do more than just tread water as a pro. I would not be surprised if we see him win multiple tournaments and challenges in major championships in the next couple of years.
I do not think there is any doubt that Champions Retreat has picked a great young golfer to be associated with. Hopefully, we will see him hoist a trophy on the PGA Tour soon.